Charred Romaine with Tomatillo Dressing

Charred romaine

The first time I had tried grilled romaine was at Acme in New York City. Originally, I was set to attend a dinner at the James Beard House featuring Mads Refslund, the co-founder of Noma in Copenhagen, but the threat of a Nor’easter in January 2015 cancelled that dinner.

Off it was a week later to Acme in NoHo. It was such a wonderful experience, and the grilled romaine was simply delicious. Then again, so was the crispy salmon skin with fermented cucumbers and the arctic char. In the future, I will try to replicate the crispy salmon skin appetizer, and post the recipe. It was sooo good! Acme served the grilled romaine with a horseradish and buttermilk dressing that was subtle and sublime.

In the summer, when I decided to grill some romaine lettuce, I didn’t have buttermilk handy, but I did have leftover tomatillos from Enchiladas Verdes I had made a couple nights before. So, I decided to make a dressing from the tomatillos, using a recipe I came across at Bon Appétit. It turned out great, and is now a top request almost every time the grill gets fired up.

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Charred Romaine with Tomatillo Dressing
Serves 4


  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • Cotija cheese (or queso fresco), finely grated, to garnish

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 medium white onion, quartered
  • 1 small tomatillo, husk removed and quartered
  • 1 jalapeño, halved, seeds removed
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1/4 avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsley chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, (half a lime, squeezed)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a small saucepan add onion, tomatillo, jalapeño, garlic and enough water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, and let cool. Reserve water.
  2. Using an immersion blender, purée the mixture with avocado, cilantro and lime juice. While puréeing, slowly add the olive oil. Add the reserved water until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat grill to medium-high, drizzle sliced halves of romaine lightly with olive oil. Grill, cut side down until charred, about 3 minutes, then flip and grill other side for 30 seconds.
  4. Spoon dressing onto plates and place grilled romaine on top, charred side up. Lightly drizzle dressing on romaine, then sprinkle with Cotija or queso fresco.

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